News Release – Got an Idea for an Ed Tech Tool to Support Special Education? NewSchools Ignite Might Fund it!

February 16, 2017


Debbie Veney   [email protected] | 415-375-8262

Elly Stolnitz   [email protected] | 415-371-6034


Announcing up to $1.5 million in new funding opportunities for ed tech entrepreneurs

(Oakland, CA, February 16, 2017) — NewSchools Venture Fund is excited to announce the launch of its next ed tech funding opportunity: the NewSchools Ignite Special Education Challenge.  This challenge targets ed tech entrepreneurs with a product that supports Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade students in special education. The opportunity will be open from February 16 till March 12.

NewSchools Ignite is a virtual ed tech accelerator that focuses on market gaps in education, and supports entrepreneurs interested in developing products that help schools and teachers tailor learning for students, and make the best use of instructional time and resources. While some segments of the ed tech market have grown rapidly in the last few years, other market segments are still lagging in innovation that meets critical student and teacher needs. Tools for students with disabilities is one of those areas, and is the focus of this current ed tech challenge.

“We always begin by listening to educators,” said Tonika Cheek Clayton, managing partner, NewSchools Venture Fund.  “It seems intuitive that students with disabilities might need significant academic support, but we talked with experts and gained a much better understanding of the higher incidence of adverse outcomes for these students – such as significant gaps in student achievement when compared to their counterparts, and lower graduation and employment rates.  More importantly, we learned how ed tech tools could help.”

To help inform the specifications of the NewSchools Ignite Special Education Challenge, the team at NewSchools conducted market research with approximately 40 educators, thought leaders and entrepreneurs.  Market research showed ed tech tools have potential to address several critical areas of need for students with disabilities:

  • making rigorous academic content accessible to a wide range of students
  • encouraging increased communication and collaboration of diverse learners
  • supporting skills related to executive functioning and agency
  • using data to empower students, families, and educators

For this challenge, the team is seeking a diverse set of entrepreneurs to create exceptional special education tools for students, with funding in the range of $50,000-$150,000. Funding will be accompanied by management assistance and collaboration within a community of practice of other organizations that receive funding in this challenge.  Ventures will be notified by April 28.  Interested entrepreneurs can apply at

NewSchools finds, funds and supports teams of educators and entrepreneurs whose bold ideas have the potential to achieve outstanding results for students.  Previous NewSchools Ignite challenges have been focused on science, middle and high school math, and English Language Learning.

NewSchools Venture Fund is a national nonprofit that supports and invests in promising and innovative education entrepreneurs and leaders, and helps them accomplish their missions to achieve outstanding results for the schools, students and educators they serve. We are committed to helping students graduate high school prepared and inspired to achieve their most ambitious dreams and plans. Through our investing, management assistance, network building, and thought leadership, NewSchools helps to reimagine K–12 education.